MISSION AND THE SACRAMENTS

By:  Joseph, Arthur, Lloyd & Lucy

The decree Ad Gentes on the mission activity of the church stresses the following:

“Divinely sent to the nations of the world to be unto them “a universal sacrament of salvation,” the Church, driven by the inner necessity of her own catholicity, and obeying the mandate of her Founder (cf. Mark 16:16), strives ever to proclaim the Gospel to all men Fr. Phil pic5and women. The Apostles themselves, on whom the Church was founded, following in the footsteps of Christ, “preached the word of truth and begot churches.” It is the duty of their successors to make this task endure “so that the word of God may run and be glorified (2 Thess. 3:1) and the kingdom of God be proclaimed and established throughout the world”. (AG 1)

With this opening  statement of the decree Ad Gentes on the mission activity of the Church, Rev. Fr. Philadelfo ‘Phil’ Estrella, OMI came to the Euntes community last September 15 to Fr. Phil pic1give a five-day lecture on Mission and the Sacraments to help us deepen the understanding of our sacramental vocation.

On his opening salvo, he said that the sacraments are for us not for God, and that the sacraments are to be understood in the context of our faith community because sacraments flow from our belief in the Incarnation.

In this module we were awakened to the fact that the sacraments are not only rituals; a sacrament is everything in this world as  feeding the poor, giving hope to the hopeless, being concerned about the environment, etc…

In our traditional understanding we know that there are only seven sacraments but in reality there are many more than that. Some people still don’t know what a sacrament is really all about. We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to know more and deepen our point of view about the sacraments.

MFS 2009 - FILIPINO CULTURE PRESENTATION 037Our challenge now is to share what we have learned in this course so that people understand more deeply what the essence of sacraments in their own lives is. It is our primary task to go and reach out and let the people of God discover and realize their sacramental vocation.

Our sacramental vocation is to reveal, manifest, and proclaim the face of God in everything we do, in our own little ways such as helping our brothers and sisters in the community we live in, and let people feel the presence of God through our good example, in words and deeds.

DSC01695We have also learned the importance of the liturgy in our lives. Liturgy is a celebration that acknowledges the grace and meaning of events, by remembering and making the past present. We have come to realize that to have a meaningful and fruitful liturgical celebration we need to consider the different components such as preparation, gathering, encounter-conversation, food, symbols and gestures.

We know now that the liturgy is about celebrating life, about celebrating our communitarian and personal relationship with God and with one another. This is the reason why the community gathers together and is encouraged to keep the community together.

There is a call for us to reflect, meditate, and contemplate on the essence of liturgy. The encyclical Mediator Dei, no 25, defines liturgy as “the public worship which our Redeemer as head of the Church renders to the Father, as well as the worship which the community of the faithful renders to its Founder, and through him to the heavenly Father. In short, it is the worship rendered by the Mystical Body of Christ in the entirety of its head and members”. Therefore liturgy is God’s story and our story. We cannot celebrate one without the other.

DSC01536The most significant learning that we received from the seminar is about our discussion on the Eucharist. Here, we were led to experience and understand the Eucharistic presence as total listening, total availability, and total sharing. 

Jesus present in the Eucharist is a Jesus who is totally attentive, totally available and totally broken for the nourishment and healing of others. Since we have come from different countries in Asia and the Pacific our response for this is living the Eucharist as the Bishops gathered for the 9th FABC Congress held recently in Manila have stressed in their final message.

Allow us to share with you our reflection about the Eucharist that we have adapted from Fr. Ruben Villote, SJ who writes about the Eucharistic presence as total listening, total availability and total sharing.

“Listening alone is allowing God to reveal himself in the silence of our heart.  It is asking:  “What is God telling me through this particular person, or through this particular event or situation we find myself here and now?”  “Where does God want to lead me?

Listening with others is allowing God to reveal himself in the silence within-and-among ourselves.  It is no longer asking:  “What is God telling me individually or where is God leading me individually?” but “What is God telling us, where does God want to lead us as a community (as friends, or as a people/nation, or as Church)?”  Listening with others requires a continuous listening to one another’s “little stories” of faith, and accepting them as parts of the Big Story of God’s continuing self-revelation in history.

Conversation with Fr. GiulioBeing available to oneself is simply identifying and accepting what is most personal, intimate and unique in oneself (one’s sexuality, woundedness, memories, doubts, fears), and owning them.  It is only after feeling comfortable with oneself can one become truly available to others because only then can he offer himself as a source of recognition and healing for others.  When Jesus exposed his wounds to his disciples, saying:  “Come and touch!” his disciples saw their own wounds in his, and from that moment they were embarrassed and afraid no longer. We can then begin to become like Jesus who continues to be totally available to us in the Eucharist precisely because he sees in our woundedness his own wounds which he then offers to us for our healing”.

As the Euntes community we do our best to respond to the mission of the Church by deepening the awareness of our sacramental vocation and putting it into practice, willing to die and willing to give our whole selves for the sake of the kingdom of God so that others may have life and have it in abundance.

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